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December 22, 2008

Seventh Circuit creates SORNA split just in times for holiday cert shopping

Anyone looking for good cert vehicles to give to their favorite SCOTUS litigator this holiday season ought to be sure to check out a new opinion from the Seventh Circuit in US v. Dixon, No. 08-1438 (7th Cir. Dec. 22, 2008) (available here).  Dixon covers a lot of ground concerning the reach and constitutionality of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and it flags this new statutory circuit split over the Act's reach:

After the appeal in our case was argued, the Tenth Circuit held in United States v. Husted, 2008 WL 4792339 (10th Cir. Nov. 5, 2008), that the Act punishes only convicted sex offenders who travel in interstate commerce after the Act was passed....

On the Tenth Circuit’s logic, a sex offender who has resided in Indian country since long before the Act was passed is subject to the Act but not someone who crossed state lines before the Act was passed.  That result makes no sense....

We therefore disagree with the Tenth Circuit’s interpretation. Because this ruling creates an intercircuit conflict, we have circulated our opinion to the full court before issuing it, as required by Circuit Rule 40(e). There were no votes to hear the case en banc.

December 22, 2008 at 02:00 PM | Permalink


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I am the defense attorney in the Dixon case. Both the AUSA and I predicted that the 7th circuit would decide the case along the lines of the 10th circuit. we were wrong.

I also erroneously believed that my 2 Commerce Clause challenges were the strongest arguments.

Although a poor decision, it is interesting in that Posner and Easterbrooke were on the panel and basically re-wrote the statute to include a grace period for registering. Congress made no such provision. Judicial activism??

Posted by: Bryan Truitt | Dec 24, 2008 10:12:20 AM

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